Elections are important.

That's why so many people have opinions about them.

However, an election isn't what stands between us and a better world than the one we live in today.

And here's how we can make the world a little better, right now.

1. Get to know other people as actual people--rather than as memes.

We have always been a country of labels, but those labels become much more efficient when we try to define everything we know about the world and the people in it in less than 140 characters.

Let me show you:

"White working class voter" is 25 characters, not including the quotation marks.

"Millennial" is 10 characters, not including the quotation marks.

"Baby Boomer" is 11 characters, not including the quotation marks.

"Republican" is 10 characters, not including the quotation marks.

"Democrat" is 8 characters, not including the quotation marks.

Labels like these can provide a rough idea of what sort of experiences and beliefs shape someone's values.

However, labels in no way give us an understanding of an actual, individual human being. But in a culture that increasingly values simplicity--when sometimes it seems like all we need to know about the world is what we learn in a meme--it seems like these labels matter more.

But you don't have to play that game. You have the power to hop off this crazy train.

Get out and get to know people for who they really are, rather than as labels or memes.

I have a cousin who is a conservative Christian, white working-class voter without a college degree.

He is also a fantastic father and a great human being.

I have a great friend who is a liberal African American Muslim with a college degree.

He is also a fantastic father and a great human being.

The three of us live in different states, and my cousin and my friend have never met, but it will be a special day when we do--and not because of anything related to politics, but because my cousin and my friend are two of the funniest guys I know, and by the end of the night our faces will hurt from laughing.

Look up from your meme, and get to know the person in front of you.

It will make your world and our world better.

2. Empower yourself.

According to Article II of the Constitution, the president is Commander in Chief, who makes treaties, fills vacancies, signs legislation into law, and is head of the Executive branch.

The president also fills another important role. Who we choose as president helps signal to the rest of the world who we are, and what we believe. I hear that from my firm's international clients regarding President Obama--and you can read about the way much of Europe views Ronald Reagan.

That's what the president is.

What the president is not is some sort of wish-granting fairy Godmother, or the genie from Aladdin.

All politicians campaign using a variation of the slogan Pedro from Napoleon Dynamite used when he ran for class president:

"Vote for me, and all of your wildest dreams will come true."

Reality check: You won't wake up on November 9, 2016, in the world of your wildest dreams.

And you won't wake up 5, 10, or 20 years from now in the world of your wildest dreams, either--unless you do the hard work to get there.

A president will not solve your problems for you, or magically give you the life you deserve.

You have to earn that life.

3. Be kind.

In every interaction we have with others, whether that interaction occurs face-to-face or digitally, we have a choice:

We can be kind, or we can be cruel.

When we choose kindness, we make the world a little bit better.

When we choose cruelty, we make the world a little worse.

But either way, that choice is ours--and we have to make that choice, regardless of who is President.

Published on: Oct 19, 2016